Gone, baby. Just gone.

Ben Affleck, I'm not a religious person by any stretch, but I mean it sincerely when I say that I forgive you your trespasses.

Ben's directorial debut was fan-f*cking-tastic, and I mean that. It's so nice to pay $10 and not see something that sucks. Gone, Baby, Gone was ridiculously good. There wasn't a bad thing about it.

Let's start with the synopsis: In the gritty streets of South Boston, a little girl named Amanda McCready goes missing, her disheveled mother begging on TV for whoever it was that took her to let her come home. Local private investigators and lovers, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, are asked by the little girl's aunt and uncle to assist in the case, already the police's top priority. Along with two detectives, Patrick uncovers a conspiracy that delves far deeper than mere police corruption.

Casey Affleck ("the cuter and better actor" Affleck brother) bursts into his first leading role with such genuineness and skill, you'd think he'd been an A-list actor for years. He was so quietly real, so hard as Patrick, both real man and character having been cultivated on the streets of Southie. On a scale of 1-10, his performance was a 10 to the 10th power.

Ed Harris played detective Remy Bressant, a man who's seen many things, who believes that sometimes you need to do the wrong thing in order to do the right. Harris, a veteran actor, was awesome, and not at all what he appeared. Bressant was the kind of anti-hero you love... only to find your faith in him shattered when you get too comfortable. There were moments where I felt like he was yelling at me, he was so into it.

The supporting cast was great, Michelle Monaghan as Angie, the idealist girlfriend and voice of reason. I loved her so much as Harmony in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, one of my favorite comedies, and I was glad to see her skill wasn't limited to just humor. Amy Ryan as coked-out Helene McCready was phenomenal, continually having me torn between cringing at her language and indifference to her child's disappearance and sympathizing with her as the reality of the situation came crashing down upon her. Amy Madigan as Beatrice was amazingly heartfelt, her desperation to find Amanda at any cost just tugged at me. Titus Welliver is a new face for me, but he was great, although his mustache was a bit distracting (it had its own life force, like Sam Waterston's eyebrows).

And Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. 'Nuff said. There are no words for his greatness.

The cinematography, though, was what clinched it, the shots of Boston, of the real people who inhabit Southie, never sparing us from those who would be deemed ugly or disgusting. There would be shots of the sides of buildings, eroding with time and carelessness, graffitied, everyone leaving their mark. There was one shot of a quarry, surrounded by jagged cliffs, that reflected the sky in the water, and it was like looking up a well into the sky up-side down. I wanted that image hanging on my wall, it was so well captured.

The film itself always left you guessing until the very end, never revealing a thing. The viewer learned with Patrick, was a part of the investigation from beginning to end to after-end. It was a poignant piece that will definitely stay with me, cement Ben Affleck's career as a director, and open up a mess of doors for the littlest Affleck.

I give Gone Baby Gone 5 out of 5.